Climate Change Calls for Capabilities Beyond Social
Climate change calls for capabilities beyond social intelligence that I am calling collaboration intelligence. Climate change is a systems challenge with the earth and the earth’s atmosphere as the system. If you don’t take care of all relevant aspects of the system in undertaking actions to adapt to climate change, then you can have unintended consequences. Typically, unintended consequences work against you rather than for you. Therefore, to tackle a systems challenge, you need to work with the different people that understand the different parts of the system relevant to your planned actions.
As Daniel Kreeger explains in Science of Success Podcast Episode 7 (see https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast), our ability to adapt to the climate changes already in progress at a rate that will preserve a good quality of life will depend on our collective actions and initiatives. As Dan explains, the world’s climate is changing around us more rapidly than it has in recorded history and we need to be adaptive to that change. Dan explains that reducing greenhouse gas emissions, also known as mitigation, is one adaptation measure. But the climate changes will lead to many impacts in the interim such as sea level rise, the spread of disease from ecosystem changes, food shortages from drought, and more. Dan explains that because climate change is a systems problem, adapting to climate change comes down to working with other people.
From my perspective, because the world’s climate is changing around us more rapidly than it has in recorded history, then we are entering into uncharted territory. Uncharted territory means we will need to rely on innovation to address the new challenges we will face in order to preserve quality of life going forward. In my first blog post (blog/collaborate-to-innovate/), I assert that creativity with collaboration is much more likely to lead to innovation then creativity without collaboration. In his book Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Dr. Keith Sawyer provides research findings and examples to support this assertion. In a previous blog post, I have also provided the ten competencies needed for collaboration (blog/surprising-secret-to-increasing-your-value-in-the-workplace/). Addressing climate change calls for collaboration.
Creativity with collaboration is much more likely to lead to innovation then creativity without collaboration.
There are both formal and informal relationships in the workplace. Typically, there are many more informal relationships that need to be managed well then formal relationships. Also, at least in my experience, it seems to be the informal relationships that can trip you up – get you in trouble and even sabotage your work – if not managed well. Systemic challenges like climate change mean there is a growing need for both informal and formal relationships inside and outside of the workplace. In his book Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman describes the traits of a socially intelligent leader in the workplace. I wondered if these were the same as the collaboration competencies. It turns out they are not. The traits of a socially intelligent leader are key to effective formal relationships and form the foundation for a collaboratively intelligent leader. There are additional traits that have been identified here that are needed to go from a socially intelligent leader to a collaboratively intelligent leader.
To explore if collaboration is the same thing as social intelligence, I compared the qualities of socially intelligent leaders to the ten collaboration competencies. To serve as a basis for comparison, I used a taxonomy from a workshop on 21st century skills sponsored by the National Research Council (NRC) on the cognitive and affective skills required in the modern workplace (assessing-21st-century-skills-summary-of-a-workshop). Using this taxonomy to categorize each the qualities of socially intelligent leaders and the ten collaboration competencies gave the results shown in the tables below.
The only overlap in categories between the qualities of socially intelligent leaders and the collaboration competencies is rapport-building capability. This was a new category added (see page 29 of Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) because the existing taxonomy could not be applied. For the socially intelligent leader, this category is mostly about empathy for subordinates. For collaboration, this category is about effective engagement and being a constructive part of the emerging group dynamic to avoid pitfalls and leverage opportunities without damaging group dynamics. Therefore, rapport-building is central to both socially and collaboratively intelligent leaders only in different ways.
It is interesting that the skill of rapport-building is missing from NRC’s taxonomy of cognitive and affective skills needed in the modern workplace. Daniel Goleman describes rapport-building as the presence of three components in his book Social Intelligence based on a landmark study by Robert Rosenthal and Linda Tickle-Degnan (see TickleDegnenRosenthal_NatureofRapport.pdf). The three ingredients are mutual empathy, shared positive feeling, and nonverbal synchrony. In his book Speed of Trust, Stephen M. Covey speaks implicitly to the importance of empathy in both the core values and behaviors needed to be trustworthy. In the core value of intent, Covey describes examining and refining your motives to authentically care for others and seek mutual benefit which is a form of empathy needed for rapport-building. In one of the behaviors that flow equally from character and competence, Covey identifies listening first which is a foundational skill for the empathy needed in rapport-building. The NRC taxonomy does identify trust as a 21st century skill but the definition is insufficient to capture rapport-building. Even Covey’s more updated treatment of trust leaves out two of the three ingredients needed for rapport-building: shared positive feeling and nonverbal synchrony. This suggests our concept of trust is too small to support the collaboration needed for innovation.
Rapport-building is central to both socially and collaboratively intelligent leaders only in different ways.
Two additional skills missing from NRC’s 2011 workshop on skills for the modern workplace but critical to collaboratively intelligent leaders are team process intelligence and design and nurturing of great group dynamics. Team process intelligence focuses on how to interact with one or more people in a way that respects, includes, and leverages different perspectives towards an objective valued by all participants. The ABC’s of teams are the foundational tools that help groups work effectively. Task focus and embracing failure as part of the process, when practiced well, are behaviors that help transform a team from working well to high performance. The skill of designing and nurturing of great group dynamics also helps transform a team from working well to high performance.
The qualities of socially intelligent leaders can be categorized as rapport-building, self-presentation, social influence, communicating clearly, and being responsible to others. These qualities are foundational to the kind of collaboration that leads to breakthrough thinking and innovation. The qualities needed for collaboratively intelligent leaders can be categorized as rapport-building, designing and nurturing of great group dynamics, team process intelligence, and critical thinking. To tackle the modern-day challenge of climate change, we need breakthrough thinking and innovation which are the result of effective collaboration. Leaders who are both socially-intelligent and collaboratively-intelligent can transform group gatherings from working well into exciting experiences that are fun, engaging, thought-provoking, rewarding, and productive.
Leaders who are both socially intelligent and collaboratively intelligent can transform group gatherings from working well into exciting experiences that are fun, engaging, thought-provoking, rewarding, and productive.
Fulcrum Connection LLC provides training, coaching, and professional facilitation services to help individuals and groups improve social skills and solve collaboration problems. For example, Fulcrum helps organizations improve teamwork, social intelligence, creativity, learning, and innovation using structured processes and proven tools. Get a copy of findings from a recent social skills survey by adding your input here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/PWRZ6GX. Get added insights on social skills for the workplace by listening to the Science of Success Podcast on i-Tunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/science-of-success-podcast) and leave a review. Sign up for Fulcrum Connection’s Quadrant II newsletter to receive a free white paper on five ways to improve creativity for innovation (https://fulcrumconnection.com) and stay up-to-date on Fulcrum Connection’s blog posts and podcasts. In addition, the newsletter will announce when the following content will be available on-line: “Secret to High Performance Teams” program, the Team Collaboration Assessment© Tool and Guide, the LEARN Plan, the collaboration assessment quiz, and new tools and techniques to remain productive in a toxic micro-climate. To learn more, please contact Valerie Patrick at Fulcrum Connection LLC (412-742-9675 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Also ask about our first-time client offer.